Simon Parkin: Judging by Metacritic all reviewers other than our own David McCarthy are knobbers. No it's not 'just their opinion': they're categorically wrong because Bladestorm is empirically brilliant. Reinventing both Koei's unique and recognisable brand of sprawling battlefield epic as well as the events of the 100 Years War the game transcends genre to create something wholly distinct and fresh from the rest of gaming. If you were put off by the demo then please take a chance the full game in the New Year as this is important and interesting: two rarities in videogames.
Kristan Reed: Seriously? I might have to take it out of the shrink-wrap then...
Tom Bramwell: GripShift! GripShift GripShift GripShift!
EA / Crytek / PC
Tom Bramwell: GripShift!
Kristan Reed: Another 'wish I had a decent PC' title. Soon. Soon.
Kieron Gillen: Don't hate Crysis because she's beautiful. Love her, because she does the open level thing like nobody else. Up the difficulty level, think on your feet and you get something that's as improvisational as anything else. While I understand when Halo fans talk about how they can approach a conflict in so many ways, I can't help but think that if they played the best sections of Crysis their cerebellum would explode from their ears or something.
John Walker: It's pretty much all about the punching down buildings and chopping up trees for me. And that's enough.
Rob Fahey: Yeah, I'll probably pass on paying 2000 pounds to play a fairly generic looking FPS game, thanks all the same. I'm all for pushing the boundaries of technology, but Crytek have succeeded in making a game that most people won't even think of playing until the hardware it needs drops in price - by which point the game will be a fiver in the bargain bins. Doh.
Alec Meer: I had a whale of a time pushing the demo to its limits, but the final game quickly felt clinical and artificial, even before it descended into pointless alien gibberish. There's a lack of character to it - I just don't care about who or where or why I am, and the scope for sandbox'o'death isn't enough to compensate for that.
23. The Darkness
Rob Fahey: I know at least two people who stopped playing The Darkness because it "wasn't scary enough". These people are idiots. The whole point is that the tables are turned - you get to play the scary monster, the thing that goes bump in the night and then impales you on a writhing tentacle of demonic flesh while simultaneously eating your mother's face. On that front, bloody brilliant. And having that bloke from Faith No More howling "feed me with murder!" in your ear helps, too.
Alec Meer: Yes, the watching telly on the sofa bit was pretty incredible, but I'm genuinely surprised this made the top 50.
Matt Martin: Started well but those tentacles did my head in. I'd like to think I'll go back to it, but I doubt it.
Kristan Reed: In what was a fine year for shooters, Starbreeze was smartest of all for releasing this well ahead of the onslaught. Didn't quite live up to its heady promise thanks to some horrible interlude levels and strangely empty cities, but when it got into its stride it was damn near one of the most engaging games of the year.
Dan Whitehead: God, this game bored me titless. The ooh dark and scary storyline and voice acting made me lol like a monkey, while the spookily empty levels just left me itching for something to do. And what's the point of giving the player all these groovy demon powers if the gameplay never actually requires you to use them in interesting ways? And don't get me started on the ending. Three cheers for games that finally let you do the cool stuff you've been waiting for all game...in a non-interactive cut-scene. Bravo.
Kieron Gillen: I like The Darkness. I like the setting. I like the character. I like the chopped-up WW1 soldiers. I liked that scene. I liked the tentacle-rape undertones. But it's no Crysis and my peers need to be beaten for voting it above it.
Tom Bramwell: I played it for half an hour, turned off the console and never turned it back on again. Literally - my 360 died after I finished playing the first bit The Darkness. The disc lies in there, entombed, which is the sort of gothy destiny the greasy Neil from The Young Ones muppet in the lead role probably wanted.
Simon Parkin: There's a moment, deep in the final act of The Darkness. You've followed your nemesis, Paulie Franchetti back to his mansion - the man who murdered your girlfriend Jenny in front of you and probably raped your kitten or something too. You've killed 8 million henchmen with esoteric tentacle weapons of unspeakable evil and you're wearily scaling the winding staircase of a dusty bell tower for the final confrontation. When you get to the last room he's there, wounded and pathetic, shuffling on his backside away from you. A cut-scene plays and then the game presses interactivity back into your hands. It's you and him and he's half-dead and powerless and you're not. I literally held my breath, hoping that, after 15 hours of super-violence on this ugly revenge rollercoaster there might finally be some small moment of redemption. I walked around the room, searching for some ingenious narrative side-door to open and escape through; some way to end the game without the need of a bullet. That there wasn't one and I had to pull the trigger in cold blood was perhaps my biggest gaming disappointment of the year.
22. World in Conflict
Sierra / Massive / PC
Alec Meer: The best explosions of 2007. Probably of 2008, too.
Kristan Reed: A game I'd love to play if I had a PC capable of running it.
Tom Bramwell: Before you think about giving him your sympathy, readers, bear in mind that Kristan recently upgraded his 50-inch 720p plasma TV to a 50-inch 1080p LCD TV. No wonder he can't afford anything.
Kieron Gillen: My favourite RTS of the last twelve months. Picking up where the Ground Controls left off, it takes its online-shooter... but an RTS multiplayer idea and goes wild with it. The single-player game, while agreeably Hollywood, is a little shallow, but the subtle interplay of the online arena took up far too much of my time. Also, reigning champion in the ongoing best in-game nuclear explosion.
Dan Whitehead: Like Herbert West and his fluorescent syringe, any game that can make the desiccated corpse of real-time strategy look vibrant and hungry is more than worthy of big, big praise.
Jim Rossignol: Less like a game, more like an elegy to the World War III that never was. Sigh.
21. World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade
Blizzard / PC
Kieron Gillen: The only thing I don't like about those first twenty Draenei levels is that I've no idea how to spell "Draenei".
Oli Welsh: It's like World of Warcraft, but better. In space. This is how expansions should be done. It would have been easy for Blizzard to get comfortable on their giant beanbag stuffed with laurels, but in fact there isn't a single aspect of WOW that wasn't affected and improved by Burning Crusade. The game continues to tower above the rest of the MMO competition where it matters: artwork, accessibility, sense of place and character, richness of storytelling, inter-class dynamics. The Blood Elf starting areas in particular are a perfectly formed and richly satisfying RPG experience in their own right. And the music, God, the music. It's a dead heat between Mario Galaxy and Burning Crusade for soundtrack of the year, but one thing's for sure, they're both all-time classics.
Rob Fahey: It certainly wasn't all things to all men - given the size of WoW's player base, it couldn't be - but I remain a huge fan of the Burning Crusade. The new zones were beautiful, the new raid dungeons vastly impressive - and the whole thing kept WoW fresh and interesting for yet another year. Mission accomplished.
Alec Meer: I spent almost as much time playing this as I did sleeping this year, and the sense of accomplishment is roughly equal.
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